Silent Witness

Silent Witness: Father’s broken seal found with his eyeglass lenses and remains

by Kyoko Niiyama, Staff Writer

A crystal seal is broken in two. It’s visible that the Chinese characters which read “Yoshioka” are inscribed at one end of the seal. It was found in the ruins at Sakai-machi (now part of Naka Ward in Hiroshima), located about 600 meters away from the hypocenter.

The seal belonged to Shoji Yoshioka, who was 31 years old as of 1945. Mr. Yoshioka worked for the mobilization section of the Hiroshima Police Department, which had been evacuated to Onaga-machi (now part of Higashi Ward). However, on August 6, due to a work-related matter, he left his home in Kabe (now part of Asakita Ward) and headed into the central area in Hiroshima, instead of his office.

After getting off the train at Yokogawa station (now part of Nishi Ward), he went missing. A week after the atomic bombing, on behalf of his wife Misako, who had just given birth to a baby, his brothers pulled a two-wheel cart and searched for him. Looking for more clues, they headed to the Ito internal medicine and gastroenterology hospital where he had regularly visited, but they found the hospital building was completely destroyed. When they dug the place which seemed to have been a waiting room, they found the seal, broken eyeglass lenses, a charred watch, and human remains.

Masako Arii, 74, Mr. Yoshioka’s daughter living in Asakita Ward said, “It was lucky that my father’s items and remains were found. I assume he wanted to come back to us anyway.” Ms. Arii was one month old at the time of the bombing and knows her father by only his photograph. Her father’s artifacts tell the end of his life silently to those who see them.

(Originally published on September 10, 2019)